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New caravans of desperate Central American families fleeing violence and poverty

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A combination of push factors, such as violence, disasters, poverty and lack of response from governments are largely intertwined as key drivers of new caravans in Central America.


A new caravan set out from San Pedro Sula, Honduras beginning on the 15th of January, and quickly grew to more than 4,000 people. It split as it entered Guatemala, with groups taking one of two routes to the Mexican border with Guatemala. Many migrants and refugees have opted to form caravans, rather than travel through Mexico alone, because they are frightened of being kidnapped by human traffickers, falling into the hands of organized crime and drug cartels, or suffering abuses from the police or military.

Timeline and key facts

  • A year after the large migrant caravans left the NCA, another group of persons looking to flee Honduras and neighbouring countries has assembled.

  • The benefits of travelling in large groups are related to protection and economic reasons (reducing the need to pay high fees to people smugglers).

  • The first caravan, of about 500 people, was convened in San Pedro Sula bus station, Honduras, on the 14th of January.

  • By the 16th of January, between 3,500 and 4,0001 personas had entered into Guatemala through different border crossings, both regularly and irregularly, including Corinto, Entre Rios and Agua Caliente.

  • By the 19th of January, approximately 2,500 people had arrived at Tecun Uman, and were waiting to cross the border with Mexico2.

  • On the 20th of January, people were reported to start travelling directly from El Salvador to join the caravans.

  • People are travelling in smaller, dispersed groups (up to 20 or 30 people), by foot, trucks and buses.

  • Chaos in different border crossings between Guatemala and Honduras have been reported while migrants and displaced people try to reach safety.

  • According to estimations made by organisations in the protection cluster in Guatemala, families, unaccompanied minors, LGBTI persons and pregnant women make up at least a third of the members of the caravans.